I like to finish projects.
There’s something wonderful about wrapping up what I’ve begun that gives me a great sense of accomplishment. I want to check the final box, finish every detail, pack it up and move on to the next thing.
There’s just one problem…I’m a mother!
Motherhood simply doesn’t lend itself to completed projects. Whether it’s dirty laundry, stacks of dishes, or discipline issues a mother’s work is never done. Can I tell you a secret? One of my lowest moments used to be laundry day. After a busy day of washing, drying, and folding clothing, my family would end their day naked. They’d just strip off all their dirty clothes with never a thought to what I’d just accomplished! With a family of ten, do you know what that meant? 10 pairs of socks. 10 pairs of underwear. 10 shirts. 10 jeans. Flight suits. Baseball jerseys. Aaahhh! The laundry basket was full to overflowing faster than I could get the clean clothing put away. It was so discouraging…
Every day, I would look at my checked off “To Do” list and realize that the same exact list was going to be waiting for me the next morning. Yes, I’d prepared breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it was a sure-fire guarantee that my children were going to wake up hungry again. Yes, I’d trained and taught into character qualities like kindness, and diligence, and honesty, but it was a sure-fire guarantee that a new day would bring new character challenges… Sometimes, (too often) before breakfast was even on the table!
So what’s a mother to do? Are we just destined to spend our days discouraged, disappointed in ourselves, overwhelmed and under stress?
I don’t believe for a second that lives of discouragement are what God has planned for us! He put that “finishing things is good” mechanism in our hearts and minds, and I’m convinced that it wasn’t a mistake. God wants us to spend our days overflowing with the joy that comes from our relationship with Him; not reeling from disappointment over the circumstances of our lives.
May I share some practical ways I’ve found to incorporate “closure” into our days of busyness, incompletion, and repetitive mindless chore-doing? Trust me, it’s not really all that difficult! The solution is found in setting some simple, reasonable, and attainable goals. When you’re busy mothering small children, it is not the time to set lofty, “I’m going to change the world, influence multitudes, and do it all with a spotless house,” goals. Instead, we must learn to think small, but strategically.
Set a simple scripture memorization goal. Even on my busiest days, I found time to work on scripture memorization with my children. Unfortunately, sometimes I forgot how important that discipline was for me, as well. Whether we’re washing dishes, folding laundry, or driving to the next big event, we can engage our minds by reviewing and remembering the verses we’ve chosen to memorize. I especially like to memorize whole chapters or books of the New Testament. God’s Word, hidden in my heart, keeps me from a multitude of oh-so-tempting, but damaging verbal sins! (Psalm 119:11)
Choose a simple scripture reading goal. We set ourselves up to fail when we make grandiose plans to read, study, and meditate for extended periods of time. Diapers will get soaked, siblings will argue, chocolate chips and Diet Coke will cascade on the kitchen floor, (it’s a long story… don’t ask). Those things happen! Instead of planning for long intense times in the Word, set a goal to read some scripture each day. Ruth Bell Graham kept her Bible open on the kitchen counter so that she could snatch bits of scripture throughout the day. God isn’t watching, and keeping a record of your quantity of reading! No, He’s waiting eagerly to share His heart with you in even the shortest amount time you spend in the Word.
What area of your home is causing you the most stress right now? Is it the playroom? Or kitchen? Or bedroom? Set goals to organize and beautify just that part of your home. When we have one peaceful oasis in our home to which we can retreat, we will be energized to accomplish more. Don’t set out to clean, organize, and de-clutter everything overnight! Little by little, you’ll get it done and seeing one area completed will provide the mental strength you need to complete more areas.
When we encourage others, we are encouraged ourselves. Set a simple goal to send out one note, or email, or text of encouragement each day. It doesn’t have to be long, elaborate, or poetic! Just a simple, “You’re doing a great job and I’m praying for you!” will reap beautiful fruit.”
Finally, set a simple physical goal. We can’t all train for a marathon, swim laps daily, or lose 20 lbs. and honestly, sometimes those big goals can just become too distracting. However, we can take a walk, eat healthily, or simply get outside. This one area of goal setting affords me more satisfaction at the end of the day than any other area. I know that when I’m healthy physically, I’m much more equipped to deal with the daily stresses and distractions of life. Simple attainable goals provide simple attainable successes.
No, we probably won’t ever have it All Together while we’re busy mothering our children, but that doesn’t mean we have to be discouraged and disappointed. Make some simple goals. Record some well-earned successes. Then, you’ll see progress in the little things, and slowly but surely all of those little things will add up to some wonderful big changes.
This season of life will pass… I promise! Someday, the house will be clean. Your Bible study will be completed. The laundry will be caught up. That will be awesome, (Or so I’ve been told) but what really counts are the years between then and now.
The years of unfinished projects, but character healthy kids.
The years of mountains of dirty laundry, but great, messy memories.
The years of caked on food, but warm and filled tummies.
Yes, motherhood is a never-ending proposition, but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
*I’d love to hear what goals you’re setting in order to bring about those incremental, God-glorifying changes in your home! Just drop us an email at contact@characterhealth. It will be my privilege to pray for you as you seek to honor God through your biblical goals.